• Inslee: More needed to prevent oil train explosion

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    SEATTLE (AP) — Citing deadly risks associated with increasing volatile shipments of crude oil through Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday said the state and federal governments need to take swift action to prevent and respond to oil spills. The governor likened an oil train explosion to "a bomb" going off, and said he's concerned that local emergency responders, particularly in smaller communities along rail lines, aren't adequately prepared to respond to accidents. Derailments of oil trains have caused explosions in several states and Quebec, where 47 people were killed when a runaway train exploded in Lac-Megantic in July 2013.

  • Judge: Stockton, California, must follow bankruptcy laws, pay creditors and pension fund

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Judge: Stockton, California, must follow bankruptcy laws, pay creditors and pension fund.

  • Facebook apologizes to drag queens for name policy

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is apologizing to drag queens and the transgender community for deleting accounts that used drag names like Lil Miss Hot Mess rather than legal names such as Bob Smith. The world's biggest online social network caught heat recently when it deleted several hundred accounts belonging to self-described drag queens, other performers and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Facebook has long required its users to go by their "real names" on the site for security purposes, to stand out from other social networks and so it can better target advertising to people. Now, the company says the spirit of its policy doesn't mean a person's legal name but "the authentic name they use in real

  • Top selling vehicles in the US in September

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    Automakers announced September U.S. car and truck sales on Wednesday. Here are the top sellers, the number of vehicles sold and the percent change from a year ago. Source: Autodata Corp.

  • AP-GfK Poll: Top issues in the midterm election

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — It's October and in some places, voters are already voting. The latest Associated Press-GfK poll finds those likely to cast a ballot are focused more on the economy than other issues. But that hasn't stopped campaigns from trying to appeal on other topics as well. Here's a look at what voters think on the top issues of the election cycle. THE ECONOMY: The nation's economic blues remain at the top of voters' list of important issues. Asked to name the nation's biggest problem, 19 percent cite the economy, significantly higher than the 12 percent who name the next highest issue on the list, terrorism and national security. Among all adults, 4 in 10 approve of President Barack Obama's handling of the issue, a

  • 911 caller: Cop told man to drop gun at Wal-Mart

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A 911 caller who reported a man carrying a gun in Wal-Mart told state investigators he heard an officer repeatedly say "put it down" about two seconds before police shot the man, killing him, according to a summary of the interview released by the state. The 24-year-old caller, Ronald Ritchie, was interviewed the day after the Aug. 5 shooting at the Beavercreek store in suburban Dayton that killed John Crawford III. Crawford, 22, had been talking on a cellphone and carrying an air rifle he picked up from a shelf as he walked through the store.

  • 'Vultures' hover over Argentina -US relations

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Relations between Argentina and the United States have sunk so low the South American nation's president is blaming the Obama administration for her country's debt crisis and suggesting Washington might even want to have her killed. "If something was to happen to me, nobody should be looking to the east, but to the north after the things that are being done in diplomatic offices," President Cristina Fernandez said in a fiery speech Tuesday. Fernandez and her government have been infuriated by the U.S. government's refusal, or legal inability, to squash court ruling that recently pushed Argentina into its second technical default in 13 years. U.S.

  • Guilty plea expected in Miami Heat fraud case

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A man charged with a multimillion-dollar investment scam involving three former Miami Heat players and the team itself is expected to plead guilty, according to his attorney and court documents filed Wednesday. A grand jury indictment alleged that Haider Zafar defrauded players Mike Miller, James Jones and Rashard Lewis in 2013 by promising to invest $7.5 million in various business opportunities. Instead, prosecutors say, Zafar kept the money and used some of it to buy a $1 million, three-season Heat ticket package. Zafar faces five wire fraud charges that each carry maximum 20-year prison sentences.

  • Amazon closing distribution plant in Kansas

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Amazon.com plans to close a distribution center in southeast Kansas in February, a move that will affect hundreds of workers in this rural area, the online retailer said Wednesday. The Seattle-based company said it regularly evaluates its network to ensure the business is placing fulfillment centers as close to customers as possible. "This is not a decision we made lightly and we are committed to supporting our employees through this transition," Amazon spokeswoman Ashley Robinson said in an email. Amazon said it employs hundreds of workers in Coffeyville, but gave no specific numbers. Employees were notified Tuesday afternoon.

  • Vermont's Bag Balm ointment goes corporate

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    LYNDONVILLE, Vt. (AP) — Vermont's locally produced, quirkily used Bag Balm ointment long ago moved beyond the bovine, but now it's going corporate. The 115-year-old family business was sold last week to a group of investors who are promising to expand the brand, but not change the formula of the gooey, yellow-green ointment. Bag Balm began as a staple for dairy farmers treating the inflamed udders of cows, but over the generations, the salve sold in its signature square green tins has been used for everything from sunburns to the paws of dogs searching the World Trade Center's rubble after 9/11. It's been known to ease the loading of ammunition in firearms, take the squeak out of bedsprings and soothe pruned trees.

  • US appeals court OKs evidence from no-warrant GPS

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday ruled that prosecutors can use evidence gathered after a GPS device was put on a suspect's van without a warrant. The decision is a blow to three Philadelphia brothers charged in a series of pharmacy robberies, and for civil rights lawyers concerned about the reach of police power in the technological age. "It's disappointing that today's decision lets law enforcement agents off the hook in a broader range of circumstances," said Catherine Crump, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley who argued the case in May for the American Civil Liberties Union. The U.S.

  • Regulators reject challenge to Ameren power rates

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Ameren Missouri outlined new plans Wednesday to gradually reduce its reliance on coal-fired power plants, while state utility regulators also rejected a complaint alleging the company has earned more than it's entitled to on its electricity rates. The Missouri Public Service Commission voted unanimously to dismiss a case brought by Noranda Aluminum and various individual customers asserting that Ameren Missouri's electricity rates should be reduced based on allegations that it has earned more than regulators allowed. The commission also declined to reconsider Noranda's request for a reduction in its own electricity rates, which could have resulted in higher bills for other Ameren Missouri customer

  • US OKs $1.75 billion arms sale to Saudi

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has approved a $1.75 billion sale of Patriot missiles and associated items to Saudi Arabia to bolster the air defenses of the key U.S. ally in the Arab world. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Wednesday that the State Department had approved the transfer, which includes 202 Patriot missiles, test targets, launchers, spare parts and other equipment. It said the sale would improve the security of Saudi Arabia, a nation it said has been an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Mideast. In a statement, the agency noted the move would not change the military balance in the region, where U.S. policy has long been for Israel to have a qualita

  • Prison for bank exec who used firm's card for wine

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A former TD Bank executive who used a company credit card to buy $240,000 in Champagne and lap dances at strip clubs to ease his stress from work has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. The Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/1xCJuIx ) reports 42-year-old Jeffrey Burnham of Arundle, Maine, had pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Portland to a felony charge of theft by a bank officer. He used the credit card to buy $1,000 bottles of Champagne and $750 lap dances. Burnham was also sentenced Wednesday to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay back $240,514.54. Burnham says he spent the money at strip clubs in Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Florida. He says it was a way to

  • US issues final minimum wage rule for contractors

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Labor Secretary Thomas Perez issued a final rule on Wednesday raising the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors to $10.10 an hour. The action puts in force a step announced by President Barack Obama in February. The Labor Department said nearly 200,000 American workers will benefit from the new minimum, which takes effect Jan 1. The minimum federal wage is now $7.25 an hour. Obama has proposed the higher pay level for all workers, but that has drawn resistance from Republicans in Congress. In announcing the new rule, Perez said that "by raising the minimum wage for workers on federal contracts, we're rewarding a hard day's work with fair pay.

  • New Mexico women say motel owner assaulted them

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Three women have sued a New Mexico motel owner and the director of the halfway house where they lived, saying they were repeatedly sexually assaulted at work and threated with being sent back to prison when they complained. In the lawsuit, the women say they were assigned by Cindy Hannan, who ran New Life Recovery House in Alamogordo, to work at a nearby Super 8 Motel where they were harassed, subjected to lewd conduct and inappropriately touched by owner Victor Chevdawala. Hannan threatened to send the women back to prison when they complained, according to court documents. As part of their release, the women had to follow her rules on employment.

  • GM looks to new vehicles, China to boost profit

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    MILFORD, Mich. (AP) — General Motors CEO Mary Barra told investors Wednesday that GM plans a raft of new models and a big push to sell more cars in China to drive profits in coming years, as the biggest U.S. automaker tries to shift the spotlight from a mishandled recall of older small cars. Barra needed to reassure investors that GM has a strong plan going forward. The stock has dropped about 18 percent this year. It rose 1.7 percent in afternoon trading. GM recalled 2.6 million small cars worldwide earlier this year to fix faulty ignition switches that are now blamed for at least 23 deaths nationwide. Barra said suppliers have built all the replacement switches, but only about 1.2 million small cars have had the repairs s

  • Delta and General Mills are big market movers

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Market: NYSE Delta Air Lines Inc., down $1.25 to $34.90 The airline stocks turned lower following reports of the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the U.S. General Mills Inc., down 47 cents to $49.98 The consumer foods company will cut up to 800 jobs, mostly in the U.S., its second workforce reduction in a month. The Greenbrier Cos., down $7.47 to $65.91 The railroad freight car company's stock came under pressure as oil and railroad companies fight proposed federal safety rules. MGM Resorts International, down 67 cents to $22.

  • Oil boom widens wage gap between the sexes

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's unprecedented oil bonanza has boosted salaries throughout the state, though the male-dominated, high-paying energy industry also is widening the wage gap between men and women, the state's demographer said. Census figures show the median earnings of North Dakota men who worked full time year-round climbed to $49,231 last year, up from $46,225 in 2012. The median earnings for North Dakota women increased to $34,549 last year, from $34,438. The average salary in the oil and natural gas industry was more than $111,000 last year. State census office manager Kevin Iverson said the high-paying jobs in western North Dakota's oil patch have attracted more men than women.

  • Fire that killed hospital CEO, wife ruled arson

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    MONTGOMERY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — A fire that killed the president of a major southern New Jersey hospital and his wife has been ruled arson. The Somerset County prosecutor's office announced its finding Wednesday. Investigators determined the fire was intentionally set early Sunday in the master bedroom of the Montgomery Township home of 72-year-old John Sheridan and 69-year-old Joyce Sheridan. But they have not released the cause of death for either person. John Sheridan was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife was taken to a hospital, where she died a short time later. John Sheridan was president and CEO of Camden-based Cooper University Health Care, which has more than 700 physicians and serves more than ha